Oluseun Onigbinde is currently a Banker with core interests in Corporate Strategy and Green Energy. He is the Director of Green Acts Group, a Think Green Initiative.
Flags are usually designed with multiple colours, single stars or a galaxy, shining sun, Islamic symbols, parallel lines or tribal objects and so on. It marks of stepping out of the norm to design this green-white-green flag and giving it a meaning relating to the strength of nation. When Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi designed the Nigerian flag and drew three even columns painting the exteriors with green, it looked too normal. A simple artistic impression that explains our vibrant agriculture (the driver of the economy) and peace seemed quotidian. He chose green over red, blue, yellow, and black because the pages of the future were already being revealed in his imagination.
Professor Wole Soyinka in his book, You must Set forth at dawn, criticized this art of ingenuity. Our global icon of literature described it as the most uninspiring national flag on the surface of the earth. A misrepresentation of the sum of a nation’s imagination, our literally genius concluded. Many in their quietude are riled at a flag looking like a winner’s piece of nursery school painting competition. I beg to disagree with them and believe that Mr Akinkunmi was colouring the theme of the future – a peaceful world living green. Green belongs to Nigeria. It is the mark of our identity and when the world is going green.
Nigeria is a country whose statistics clearly reveal its vulnerability to climate change. The green trait in us is evident in our huge endowment in mangrove swamps of the delta, thick rainforest and lush grassland of the Savannah. Our fathers understood the importance of going green and that has made agriculture their first art. The ancient occupation that still employs 70% of Nigerians is at risk because man through other dirty actions is endangering the environment.
We gradually smeared our identity with the crude oil whose toxic fumes is impacting on our climate. We threw green agriculture sprouting from our rich soils into irrelevance with the ostentatious revenue of oil wealth. The impact of oil beyond damaging the environment is a critical factor that has widely stratified our society.
Nigeria stands at a larger risk to the effects of climate change if the current awareness among us stays at this level. We battled for years for divide in the digital era and though we have bridged some gap, we are still chronic consumers not producers. Green technology and climate change awareness, the next global turf still counts on little interest in Nigeria. We still don’t demand a forceful voice to end gas flaring, protect our forests, conserve energy, develop a robust renewable energy mix and enable research mechanisms for green technology companies.
Many African leaders may see climate change issues as another substitute for its much needed aid from developed countries. Since the developed world are the biggest polluters, they will still provide the financing against poor countries which Africa have a large representation. However, I fear the climate change Fund might be the next content of the ‘Ghana must go bags’. The sleazy politicians who made our ecological fund opaque do the arithmetic already.
If we are to achieve are our vision 2020, we need to understand how energy-intensive our economy will grow. We will soon have a sizeable share of a global emissions. Don’t we want to belong to the low-carbon future and adopt green measures? Or we still believe this oil that has never pushed us to the corridor of top economies or solve our unemployment conundrum save the future? Will we watch our 800km coastline gradually become submerged and our farmlands go dry while we hang on to lowly side of emerging green divide?
Nigeria needs to understand the hanging dynamics of future and truly defend our identity. We need the world to see the obvious statistics of our how their carbon emissions imperil us and letting them understand the social and economic effects it has us. Nigeria needs to understand the times by truly leading Africa harping on our ‘demographic dividend’. We need more stringent rules on our deforestation and bush burning. We need better information exchange among communities on climate change and how their choices affect the earth. Nigeria needs to structure a model to enable import of green technology and mass production of eco-friendly products. We need a large chunk of renewable energy to solve the nearly impossible chore of regular power supply. Oil is a finite commodity and if we really understand future generations deserve a bit, don’t lets make green energy as a threat to our oil revenue.
The oil rich United Arab Emirate is building a world class zero-carbon city named Masdar using the best eco-solutions. The greatness of nations are not grafted in the soil, they are revealed in the ingenuity of its people to lead change. Mr Akinkunmi didn’t paint our flag in black or brown, he did it with prophetic mindset in green. So as we wave green-white-green flags in pride, lets defend our identity. As the flags are hoisted nationwide, thinking and acting Green today is simply act of patriotism.